Library of Birmingham, England

Library of Birmingham, England

Last Saturday I attended the [first Wikimedia UK Volunteer Strategy Gathering]1. held in the Library of Birmingham (left) – room 101…. These are some very brief notes on a couple of bits of the day (mostly the morning sessions). Volunteers are… We kicked off with a set of questions to encourage participants to think about the groups to which they belong, and perhaps different expectations and experiences thereof, as well as some questions around how we think about what ‘role’ best describes a volunteer (activist was suggested). Where are we going? We then spent a bit of time thinking about where we want to go over the short, mid, and long-term.  From my perspective having a new CE features high short term(!), I’d also like to see us developing our funding diversity, impact reporting and (obviously a feature of the day) threading volunteer strategy through everything we do. I’d love these to be joined up so we get better at communicating our impact both to onboard new volunteers (and editors) and to advertise our activities (ideally such that some organisations can just ‘pick up and run’ with the materials provided).   It’s my view that developing some sort of ‘community project space’ might be key to that (and this could tie in with the idea of regional-volunteer-ambassadors too); I wonder whether some sort of ‘idea lab’ might be a good place to incubate, develop, run, and keep a record of, projects – some ideas on that and related [here.]2 Three bigger questions were asked, but unfortunately by the time we got to them we only had about 4 minutes for each(!) so some of that discussion was a bit shorter than I’d have liked. Anyway they were basically: 1. How can we improve outcomes for WMUK volunteers and their activities. e.g. share guides, resources, – how do we share knowledge between us to ensure we’re all running things the best we can (and getting the best external interest and coverage possible).  (note to self: knowledge-transfer strategy). 2. How can we expand the volunteer base? – The table I was on discussed: partnerships & special interest groups (e.g. going along to local, Eastleigh example); employers; gamification; how do we recruit non-editors through non-editor-routes; how do we get existing editors? (big issue) – Contributor survey through a geonotice, community champions/ambassadors, meetups 3. What direction should the charity take? We spent a bit of time talking about what we’d want to look for in a new CE, including maintaining the qualities of openness, friendliness, and so on that the office has historically been very good at :-).  Some key targets were mentioned including increasing membership and volunteer numbers (and diversity).  Some points of possible interest in skill sets were raised around skills of online community-building, technology skills, advocacy/policy experience.  There was an interesting discussion around whether we look for a ‘leader’, ‘manager’, ‘facilitator’, etc. with a key point being that they should be consultative, and able to make use of the array of expertise in the community (staff and volunteer), and get our message across in the most impactful way. Gender gap We spent a bit of time talking about the gender gap, and making the distinction between volunteer-activities in the context of Wikimedia generally, versus the WikimediaUK context.  One of [Magnus Manske’s tools]3 was mentioned, with Magnus highlighting that even for coverage of UK citizens born after 1960 (where there’s far less bias in the historic-record, and most will still be alive), there is a gender-gap in coverage of women (~70% male).  We also talked a bit about lists to tackle, and challenges of finding them (see e.g. [here if you want to tackle some biases]4).  A key point here was that we should fold diversity into all our activities.